Quebec has become the first province in Canada to begin vaccinating people for monkeypox, even though there are only 25 cases.
According to Quebec health director Luc Boileau, there are currently 25 cases and 20 to 30 more cases under investigation, adding he believes the spread of monkeypox represents a “serious situation” — but not as serious as COVID. All cases are in the Greater Montreal area.
He further stated that he believes Quebec can eradicate monkeypox from the province and noted the low transmissibility of the virus. Boileau also said that the government is “not in a community alert situation.”
“We aren’t expecting a rapid, huge number of cases. That’s why we think it can be eradicated,” Boileau said.
As for the vaccine being used, Boileau has opted to offer the smallpox vaccine to those who’ve come in contact with confirmed cases of monkeypox.
According to the Quebec immunization committee president, Caroline Quach, officials hope to vaccinate for monkeypox within four days of someone coming into contact with someone infected but will offer vaccines up to 14 days. She added that monkeypox is only transmitted when contact is prolonged.
“The recommendation is to give it four days post-exposure with some flexibility up to 14 days,” explains Quach.” If the contact has been continuous or intermittent, we’re giving a window period of four days after the last exposure.”
The Quebec government has not indicated that they intend to impose mandatory quarantining, despite one minor being isolated after being diagnosed with monkeypox.
As mentioned, this marks the first monkeypox-related change in health policy in Canada.
So far, responses from countries struck by the sudden monkeypox outbreak have varied.
In Belgium, officials announced that there would be 21-day mandatory quarantines for anyone believed to have contracted monkeypox, even though the country only had four active cases.
Conversely, Swedish officials stated they will make no changes in health policy aside from contact tracing, adding that there’s “no reason to tie monkeypox to COVID-19” and “there will be no limits or restrictions.”
It is not clear whether other provinces in Canada will follow Quebec’s lead or if new COVID-like restrictions will be implemented in the future.